Mike Day

Country: United Kingdom
Sector: Insurance
Job title: Head Of Group IT Procurement
Subject of study: Economics and Geography
Year of graduation: 1995
Type/Level of study: Undergraduate

Current Employer/Organisation Name

RSA Insurance

What have you been doing since leaving Exeter, and what are you doing now?

After leaving Exeter I went back home to Sheffield, I didn’t have any clear career path at the time. I ended up taking a sales role selling stainless steel which gave me my first taste of ‘grown up’ work. Whilst it wasn’t going to be a long term career it was an amazing grounding in office life, working with customers, difficult conversations, targets etc I stumbled on Procurement almost by accident after seeing a job advert for the NHS – I then ended up working for them procuring ambulances and stretchers for a year. Following the NHS I have had a number of roles including working for O2 procuring goods and services for their shops and then Inmarsat (satellite communications) procuring marketing and IT, before specialising in IT Procurement with Morgan Stanley and then EY where I also Got involved in Supplier Risk I moved to Insurance about 4 years ago firstly with Zurich and then RSA where I am now.

Why did you choose this career? And what do you enjoy most about your work?

As above I didn’t exactly choose Procurement – I was on the other side doing Sales and saw an opportunity to move to the other side with the NHS. It is a very unique role in that you work with many different parts of a company – legal, risk, different internal customers and of course the suppliers. Whilst Procurement has an image of negotiating hard with suppliers it is really about building relationships and networks both internally and externally.

Please tell us if you were a member of any societies, groups or sports clubs?

I was at Exeter between 1992 and 1995 and despite breaking my leg in my first year did manage to play a fair amount of football, I never played for a Uni team but did play plenty of intra-hall games.

What did you enjoy most about your programme and what was the biggest highlight?

I loved my time at Exeter, the community there, the people and even the studies! Doing a combined honours course meant we had a small (~20) group on our course but also worked with a wide range of others who were doing related subjects. My highlight was probably our field trip to Ireland in our 2nd (?) year.

What did you enjoy most about studying here?

Exeter is a great place to study, it is pretty much completely on one campus which brings a great feeling of community to the University which many other Unis don’t get. In addition the balance between study, sports and socialising was great – there was something for everyone.

Why did you choose to study at Exeter?

All of the above reasons really – I looked at 4 other Unis and 6 polytechnics (yes I’m showing my age) and Exeter was my top choice. As soon as visited Exeter I fell in love with it

What skills and experiences have been most useful for your career?

Your ability to apply yourself to get a degree (almost irrespective of the subject) is very important, working to deadlines, ability to research, absorb and communicate (instead of just copying) are extremely important. Also ability to form relationships and work with many different people especially different cultures and nationality. Finally University cultivates your independence making your own decisions, making your own mistakes and learning from them builds your confidence.

What advice would you give to a current student who wishes to pursue your career?

Don’t worry too much about the subject you choose, areas such as Law, Statistics, Business Studies, Economics Are all very relevant but I also work with people who did completely different subjects. The Chartered Institute of Purchasing & Supply (CIPS) has a qualification which builds on the degree and brings a lot of relevant skills as well.

What are your plans for the future?

Keep working! Retirement is still a long way off, I have a lot of experience in IT Procurement but am finding Supplier Risk a new challenge and one that is a growing industry (especially post COVID) – Procurement exposes you to lots of opportunities so I have always just kept my ears open to whatever is the next opportunity.


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